Protests over Covid-19 curbs will feel like ‘a kid’s birthday party’ compared to what’s ahead, a senior security official says.
Germany could be facing mass unrest this autumn and protests over the energy crisis could be hijacked by extremists, a regional head of the country’s domestic security agency has said.
Stephan Kramer, who heads the BfV in the state of Thuringia, said Germany must be prepared for the possibility that “legitimate” protests over energy and economic crises could be “infiltrated by extremists.”
He told ZDF broadcaster on Wednesday that demonstrations could be expected over “gas shortages, energy problems, supply difficulties, possible recession, unemployment, but also the growing poverty right up to the middle class.”
“Extremists” who could hijack the protests include the so-called “lateral thinkers” who rallied against coronavirus restrictions during the pandemic, and right-wing activists who have already been stirring the mood on social media in recent months, Kramer said.
If such scenarios materialize, “we’re likely to be confronted with mass protests and riots,” the official warned.
Due to Covid-19 and the economic fallout from EU sanctions on Russia over the conflict in Ukraine, “we’re dealing with a highly emotionalized, aggressive, future-pessimistic mood in society, whose trust in the state, its institutions and political actors is fraught with massive doubts,” he explained.
“This highly emotional and explosive mood could easily escalate,” the security chief said, adding that if this happens the clashes seen by Germany during the pandemic will “probably feel more like a children’s birthday party” by comparison.
According to the official, effective crisis management and cooperation between political forces on all sides of the spectrum would be required to avoid what he called a “hot autumn.”
But the most important factor in avoiding unrest and maintaining social peace should be restoring the confidence of Germans in the authorities, he added.
Kramer also advised the people to “think carefully about which protests and demonstrations you join, or better stay away from them altogether, so as not to support the enemies of democracy.”